This Entrepreneur is Building India's Alibaba Without A Penny in Loan Since 1997
"When I started this work, everyone said let's see how long this business will last."
The seed of a 6-month internet training course at NIIT 20 years ago has blossomed into a full-grown tree with branches.
Assisted by his son and nephew, Sunil Gupta, is an example of gut and glory. From managing manufacturing operations to building an online platform for manufacturers, Gupta is one of the early entrants in the field of digital B2B marketplaces.
Counted among the top #4 players in the segment, ExportersIndia is a B2B marketplace where domestic or anyone interested in export can get connected.
“20 years ago, it was a new idea. The investment was very low. Communication at that time was a big headache, information sharing was also problematic. It was difficult to explain the concept to users. Visibility was limited so was acceptability.”
When I started this work, everyone said let’s see how long this business will last,” says Gupta.
After crossing some unique problems of those times, Gupta is now determined to remove the IM from the impossible in his quest to surpass Indian competitors including IndiaMart and Alibaba.
Catering only to SMEs, this company was started by Gupta along with another executive and now has 1150 professionals.
Not A Penny From Anyone
“We have not taken a loan till date” says Gupta who has ardently re-invested all ExportersIndia earned for years.
“We have been a stable business. Any month’s expense cannot be more than the earnings is something I have made sure happens. We have maintained that for 20 years.”
He is confident the company can reach heights. “It may take time, but we are confident of our product.”
Gupta wants to take ExportersIndia ahead in the best possible way, slowly and steadily. “We have no shortage of funds, no reason to get a venture capitalist on board at this point,” says he.
Family is Our Resource
The company has no shortage of resources when it comes to top-level management either. “My son and my nephew are fully dedicated to the business; when I have my own sons, no point of involving a third-party member,” says Gupta.
Gupta’s nephew gained professional discipline for 2 years at a Swiss bank before joining hands with his uncle.
“The newer generation’s thought is in sync with technology. We are now weaving our experience with technology and the combination is leading us to heights,” says Gupta.
Based on the pay-per-view model, a buyer connects with the supplier and the leads generated by ExportersIndia are forwarded to clients who then get to see the contact information of SMEs by paying for it.
Customer Satisfaction Is Prime Most
In 1997, started from low investment, the business was slow. In 2006, technology took over but the dotcom bust was the only element stopping businesses from using ExportersIndia's portal. “We could have spent lavishly, but we did not.”
Today, the game is totally different says Gupta. “People are actively using mobiles, the internet speed is fantastic, apps use has become so common among SMEs that I have zero doubt we have arrived.”
Customer satisfaction is the most important part in any business. If you keep adding an inventory of a satisfied customer and the customer does not leave you, you will always see growth says Gupta.
Gupta believes ExportersIndia's pricing gives it an edge over its competitors. “Our balance sheet never went in losses. We expanded only as much as we could, were never over-ambitious but contained.”
No Need For Partners
“I don’t think I can get along with a partner. Rather we like to promote our technically and marketing strong staff members to take the business ahead,” says Gupta.
“I have raised my company like my own baby and I have to be cautious about how it is operated. I don’t want to hand over the reins of the company to another such that based on investments the person decides what will happen with the company.”
He believes instead of a partner entrepreneurs must use consulting services to find solutions.
“Every topic is covered by consultants these days. If you can manage with consultants, why should you shell out a stake of your company and give away your profit,” says Gupta.
The company is now aiming to expand in Malaysia, US and UAE and has a marketing structure in place with 50 executives for international calling.
“We want to increase our merchant base, our aim is 32 lakh merchants by 2017-end from the current 25 lakh merchants."